Matthew replica sails into harbour

The Matthew stopping off at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne.
The Matthew stopping off at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne.

LANDLUBBERS at Sovereign Harbour could have been forgiven for battening down the hatches and locking up their daughters when a boat which looked distinctly like it might carry pirates sailed into the marina earlier this week.

However, they need not have worried. The ship was a replica of The Matthew – a 14th Century caravel which was sailed from Bristol to North America by John Cabot in 1497.

Much to the delight of local boat fans – including Tony Smith who took this delightful photograph – the Bristol-based boat decided to stop off in Eastbourne en route from London to its home port.

Mr Smith, who lives in Sovereign Harbour, told the Herald, “It was a bit of a surprise to see what appeared to a 15th Century sailing ship entering the harbour.

“I found out later that it was The Matthew, a modern replica of the ship the Italian navigator Giovanni Cabboto (aka John Cabot) sailed to Newfoundland from Bristol in 1497. It was really great to see this lovely ship and gain an impression of how the Tudor sailors explored the then unknown world in their relatively small boats.”

Back in 1497 The Matthew, with a crew of just 18, set sail expecting to reach Asia but instead washed up on the shores of Newfoundland.

An exact replica was built as part of the 500th anniversary of the voyage and retraced Cabot’s steps during a copy cat journey in 1997.

Earlier this year running of The Matthew was handed over to a trust and the ship was moved to its now permanent home outside a museum in Bristol.

Her visit to Eastbourne came about after she took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant down the River Thames. Among the other hundreds of boats to take part was the new £2.7million RNLI lifeboat for Eastbourne.